Mrs Auramon said Sri Lanka is a developing country that boasts factors supporting trade and investment.
Thailand has pledged to accelerate negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka and complete the negotiations by early 2024.
At the third round of FTA negotiations held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on January 9-10, the two countries agreed on a timeframe to complete the negotiations by early 2024, said Auramon Supthaweethum, director general of the Bureau of Trade Negotiations.
A third round of negotiations was due to take place in 2018, but the pandemic and the restructuring of Sri Lanka’s negotiating institutions put the discussions on hold for four years.
Mrs Auramon said that in the third round of talks, the two countries’ trade negotiating committees focused on rules for bilateral trade in goods and services, rules of origin, investment, customs procedures and trade facilitation.
Additionally, the meeting updated the negotiation plan and set a timeframe for completing the negotiations within one to two years.
Sri Lanka is currently Thailand’s fourth largest trading partner in South Asia. In the first 11 months of 2022, bilateral trade between the two countries reached her US$334 million.
Thailand has exported $253 million worth of goods to Sri Lanka, including natural rubber, clothing, jewelry, ornaments, plastic pellets, machinery and machine parts.
Meanwhile, Thailand imported $81 million worth of goods from Sri Lanka, including gems, diamonds, machine parts, clothing, plants, plant products and chemicals.
Sri Lanka and Thailand first began considering an FTA in 2016, when former Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak made an official visit to the island nation.
The two countries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Technical Cooperation, a Letter of Intent on Cooperation in the Field of SME Development, and a Joint Program on Tourism for 2016-18.
The Thai Cabinet approved the negotiating framework for FTA negotiations with Sri Lanka on May 8, 2018. These cover trade in goods, services, investment and comprehensive economic cooperation.
Under this framework, the two countries aimed to sign an FTA that would triple bilateral trade to $1.5 billion in 2020.
Mrs Auramon said Sri Lanka is a developing country that boasts factors supporting trade and investment, and Thailand could use Sri Lanka as a gateway to expand Thai exports to South Asia, which has a population of over 1.2 billion people. can.
More importantly, Sri Lanka can be used as a distribution center for Thai exports to the Middle East and Africa.
Sri Lanka is looking for investment and joint venture opportunities with foreign partners in several sectors such as hotel management, tourism related businesses, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and jewelery design.
The country is also interested in importing more food, appliances, furniture and home furnishings.
Sri Lanka has already signed FTAs with India (for trade in goods only), Pakistan and Singapore. Negotiations are taking place not only with China, but also with the Bay of Bengal Initiative for multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation.